This was a letter written to our first grandchild Kelsey, who was named after her Uncle Kenneth

I thought now was the appropriate time to tell you a little something about the person for whom your Mom & Dad have chosen to name you after. He was born April 29, 1964, three years before your Dad, & although we had another name in mind for him, your Great Grandmother Adele (my Mom) suggested the name Kenneth. And so Kenneth Michael Lacks was born.  It’s hard to put ones thoughts & memories into a letter, but I will try to do him justice. It was not long after he was able to walk & talk, it was obvious to all that Kenneth was a very special child, very curious, quick to learn, but also very, very gentle & loving. As he grew into a young adult he developed a great zest for life & a wonderful sense of humor. He was a very talented piano player, artist, & an excellent swimmer. He also had a love for the arts & sciences. As soon as he was old enough he began to travel the world, non-stop, displaying that zest for life. If it was high enough for him to climb, he would climb it. If it was a long enough distance to run, he’d run it. If there was a challenge to be met, he embraced it with gusto. When I asked him why, he said he loved to challenge himself just to see if he could do it. Kenneth was successful at everything he aspired to do & and I was always in awe of him. It was no surprise when he announced to me, not only did he want to become a dentist, but wanted nothing less than to get into Columbia Dental School & vie for one of only four seats available. The rest is history, he not only became Dr. Kenneth Michael Lacks, but he did it at school of his choice & with honors! He was & will always be a very special person in our lives, & so it is with great pride & love that you be given this special gift of being named after your Uncle Kenneth.

Love

Grandma & Grandpa

Gail & Chuck Lacks

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From COPE Parent Paula Bruckner:

Adam Daniel Bruckner, left this earth on Sept. 6, 2006, leaving behind a trail of broken hearts. My poor boy succumbed to addiction and led a few tortured years before his demise as a result.

I feel that it is my job to raise awareness about the disease of addiction and to remove the stigma. Adam was a very handsome, young man, witty, loving and forever mourned.

It is surreal to me to think that he is gone now ten years; that seems like a blink of an eye and eternity all the same. My heart goes out to all my Sisters & Brothers in grief.

I ask you all to say a prayer for my boy when you read this.

Thank you.

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From COPE Parent Martina Sternberg:

As I look in his eyes, I see you.

Grief! The most painful empty uncontrollable feeling that just comes up on you like a tornado. All is quiet and still and BAM you are on your knees. I feel like I had it all until Jan 24, 2013. Joshua was/is my baby. I used to say I had an angel child and a devil child and Josh was my angel child. Now, he really is. He was just so good. He never had a mean thing to say about anyone and when my daughter and I would, he would correct us. He didn’t care where I bought his clothes, Goodwill, WalMart or Macy’s. My daughter, on the other hand, would NOT wear anything from WalMart (heaven forbid).

Josh was such an easy baby. I will never forget that day on Sep 5, 1990 when I got to look into his eyes and I just fell in love with him immediately. My little baby boy. What an amazing day – September 5. Every year we celebrated and I would remember seeing his eyes for the first time. Josh was so athletic and healthy. He played sports, took karate, won trophies and never bragged (my daughter on the other hand…bragger!).

When he was 18, on his birthday, my husband, daughter, Josh and I had a bonfire and he said before he dies, he just wants to fall in love. He met a guy while he was in karate and they became good friends. His friend had a wife and 3 sons. His friend, Nick, was a loner (kind of like Josh) and one night he hung himself at his mom’s house. Josh’s sole mission in life after that was to help his friend’s wife and kids. Josh brought the dog, Goliath, to our house to adopt and he ran anytime the wife/widow needed anything. You know how this goes. She was older and he was just a teen-ager. She got pregnant. I will never forget the day he “tried” to tell me he was having a baby. We were at lunch (we used to have “mommy and me time” even when he was an adult). He was so nervous and I kept asking what was wrong. After we left, he sent me a text and said she was pregnant. I said “whew” I thought you were going to tell me she was pregnant or something. I mean, what can you do at that point but love him and support him. Josh moved in with her and was just an amazing dad to the 3 young boys.

I will never forget the look on Josh’s face when Gabriel was born, Josh had on that blue outfit with a mask on, looking down at Gabriel and it was then, I believe that he fell in love. The one thing he wanted to do before he died.

The relationship was rocky. Josh did everything for those boys. So amazing. Finally, he decided he needed to get a vocation so he can raise the boys. He moved into to my house with Gabriel in early January to go to college. He would go to take care of the boys on the week-ends. It was so good having him back home and having this amazing little grandson. Gabriel looked just like Josh. The mom wasn’t much of a mom and didn’t really connect with Gabriel. He stayed with us most of the time.

That dreadful day when you hear the sheriff on the other end of the phone. I regret to inform you…..

Josh died in a car accident. Alone. On the side of the road. Blunt force trauma to the head. I would never see those beautiful eyes again. Touch him. Hug him. Smell his “grown up” cologne on him. Watch him be so loving to his son and the sons of his friend.

The girl left Gabriel with us, we have since adopted him and left the other boys with their dad’s mom.

The worst day for me every year is Josh’s birthday. That day was one of the three happiest days of my life (when my two kids and grandson were born).

Every year we “celebrate” for Gabriel. We have cake, we sing happy birthday, we go to the “memorial garden” (Gabriel’s word for the cemetery).

Now when I look into Gabriel’s eyes, every day, I see my son. Josh left me his most precious gift in Gabriel and as you know it isn’t enough. I want them both. After we “celebrate” daddy’s birthday and Gabriel goes to sleep that is my time to cry and cry and cry. And I do. I don’t know if it will ever stop but I do know I miss my son while I raise and love his son.